By John A. Martin, Director of Development

Rarely a week goes by without news of some seminary or school of theology in financial trouble. Sometimes, those difficulties are self-inflicted, such as by getting deeply in debt, and other times, complications come because of external influences over which the school has very little control.

Perkins is fortunate to be part of SMU, a financially stable university. One of the seven schools that compose the University, Perkins is proudly held up by the president and provost as a model of theological teaching and scholarship. Bridwell Library, one of the finest theological libraries in the United States, continues to attract scholars and researchers from around the world. It also serves the Perkins student body and faculty extremely well.

However, Perkins, like all schools of theology, has financial needs. Currently, we are completing the second year of a three-year, current-use giving initiative called Pony Power. The University is raising an average of $50 million per year over three years in money that can be expended for current initiatives. Fifty million dollars in current-use giving is the equivalent of having a disbursement from an additional $1 billion endowment! Funds of that amount allow the University to reach even greater opportunities than we have up to this point.

Perkins’ part in this is $2.5 million, which includes a goal of $315,000 for the SMU Fund for Perkins, a fund which Dean Hill can use at his discretion to move Perkins forward in a variety of ways.

In the current Pony Power initiative, we are asking all Perkins donors to consider making a gift or pledge to a current-use project at Perkins. While we value endowment, capital and planned gifts, and will continue to seek them, we are emphasizing current-use gifts at this time.

Dean Craig Hill has remarked on a number of occasions that our greatest needs are:

• Student financial aid; and
• The SMU Fund for Perkins, which can be used by the dean where needed most.

Both of those priorities impact the number and quality of students attending Perkins. We want to help our students not be burdened by great personal debt, as they follow God’s call to study at Perkins. Our tagline is “Called to serve, empowered to lead,” but it is difficult to lead if encumbered by a large debt load. The cost of seminary education discourages many outstanding candidates from applying. In spite of that, increasing numbers of students are applying to Perkins. God is still calling people to minister to a needy world.

Margot Perez-Greene, associate dean for Enrollment Management, notes, “It is imperative that we make scholarship funds available to our incoming students. They are stretched to the maximum between study, ministry, work and family. We want to help these leaders get well trained and out into ministry settings.”

The Perkins Executive Board has raised $567,000 over the last 24 months for special scholarships benefiting outstanding Master of Divinity students. Every Executive Board member has committed to giving so that Perkins can attract and retain outstanding students.

But we need the help of each graduate and friend of Perkins! I am asking you to join the Executive Board in giving a special gift so the dean’s priorities can be realized.

To join the effort, please visit giving.smu.edu/perkins or contact me at:
John A. Martin, Perkins Development, PO Box 750133, Dallas, TX 75275-0133; 214-768-2026 (direct line); or email me at johnma@smu.edu.